The countdown until the LA Street Food Fest on Saturday, June 29 continues! With only a few weeks left to buy your ticket to this summer's all-you-can-eat-and-drink outdoor extravaganza, Shawna Dawson (founder, curator and producer of the event) answers our questions as to what the day will be like. Check out her answers then head over to www.lastreetfoodfest.com, and use our exclusive code (CAMPUS13) to save $5 on your ticket today. We got hungry just reading about all these amazing vendors!
Campus Circle: What are some of the vendors/booths that appear to be generating the most interest and buzz?
Shawna Dawson: This year there's a lot of excitement around our Event Partner, The Taste of Mexico and their dozen-plus incredible vendors, including some of Baja and Mexico City's top chefs like Javier Plascencia, Pablo Salas, Rodolfo Castellanos and Mariscos el Mazateño, as well as Chula Vista's Aqui es Texcoco and many of L.A.'s best Mexican restaurants, like the James Beard Award-winning Yuca's of Hollywood. There's always a lot of excitement about our Ice Cream Social with buzzy vendors like this year's Donut Snob, Float, Sweet Clementine's, Peddler's Creamery, Fluff Ice and Z Confections. We're always excited about new concepts making their debut. Some of this year's debuts include "Top Chef" Master Neal Fraser's upcoming ICDC (ice cream, doughnuts, coffee), Fred Eric's D'elish Sandwich Shop, The Beignet Truck, Highland Park's Kitchen Mouse and recent restaurant debuts Corazon y Miel and downtown Indian gastropub Badmaash. We also get excited about pop-ups you may otherwise never hear of like Dante Fried Chicken, The Ceviche Project, Plant Food for People, Vagabond Grillyard and Mama Musubi.
CC: What is the process of selecting a vendor [for the LA Street Food Fest]? How do you achieve the balance between well-known vendors and up and coming food moguls?
SD: Every year we try to balance our vendor list by curating a mix of returning crowd favorites like Starry Kitchen, The Grilled Cheese Truck, Fred Eric, Mariscos Jalisco and Dog Haus, plus a number of new vendors to keep it interesting, and then we thrown in a handful of hidden gems and brand spanking new vendors making their debut that we want to help introduce their new businesses to a supportive and excited foodie audience.
CC: How do these vendors prepare for such a large-scale crowd?
SD: Very carefully! A lot of planning goes into the process, starting with a vendor meeting outlining everything from the mechanics of prepping thousands of signature tastes to how best to present the food. Many of our vendors have done tasting events in the past, and even some of our new vendors have catered weddings for more people than we have at the event!
CC: Is the average attendee of the event a loyal returnee or a new fan looking for a new food experience?
SD: We're grateful to have a great attendee mix year to year. Lots of loyal fans (some of whom travel from all over the country, and even the world, to be with us every year) and every year we see our audience grow. Good reason to get your tix early before they're sold out as they do every year!
CC: In the mission, you express a desire to help these small food businesses market and advertise - where did this idea for this aspect of the festival come from?
SD: We're small business owners ourselves, and we work day to day with a number of other small business owners through our marketing and PR business. We know how challenging it is to get a business off the ground and stay successful, and we wanted to help all of our vendors get a leg up. We also know how many competing food events are out there and how hard it is to carve out a marketing budget to do them all. We're still the only promotional event that actually subsidizes all of its vendors' costs -- from permits, to rentals to food costs, we try to help with it all. It's all for one and one for all.
CC: Of what caliber are the live performers? Is it similar to your mission to find up and coming vendors in the sense that you are looking to propel unknown music careers?
SD: We haven't had live music every year (let's face it, this event is all about the food!), but when we decided to bring the bands back this year, we toyed with the idea of pulling a big headliner but didn't feel that was in the spirit of what the event is all about. We're excited to feature some fun local bands like the alternative cover band Black Crystal Wolf Kids, whose singer just happens to be our friend Jeff Miller who you may know as L.A.'s Thrillist editor. We've got some other surprises in store for the event too.
Special discount: Save $5 with code: CAMPUS13
For a complete list of vendors, please visit lastreetfoodfest.com.
The LA Street Food Fest takes place on Saturday, June 29 @ the Rose Bowl. Tickets are $50 all-inclusive admission: 5-9 p.m. and $75 VIP and early admission: 3-9 p.m. Kids under 8 years old eat free with an adult! All tickets are pre-sale only; none will be sold at the door. Please note there is FREE Parking!